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Writ drops in Newfoundland and Labrador election

Progressive Conservative Leader Kathy Dunderdale of Newfoundland and Labrador launched a bid for a third straight PC majority government on Monday with the start of a provincial election campaign scheduled for Oct. 11.

Ms. Dunderdale met with Lt.-Gov. John Crosbie to dissolve the provincial legislature, where the governing Tories hold a large majority over the Liberals and NDP.

At dissolution, the Conservatives had 43 of 48 seats compared to four Liberals and one New Democrat.

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This is Ms. Dunderdale's first campaign as leader after taking over for Danny Williams, who quit politics last December. A rift has grown between the two since then, but Ms. Dunderdale has tried to resist engaging in a public squabble.

Ms. Dunderdale, 58, put her mark on her first budget last April with a $7.3-billion big-spending fiscal blueprint. It included cash to create child-care spaces and bolster programs and services for seniors and people with disabilities.

But critics have chided the government for not doing more to pay off the net debt, which was forecast to grow by almost $460 million to about $8.7 billion.

Kevin Aylward, 51, has been the Liberal leader for just over a month after Yvonne Jones suddenly stepped down to focus on her breast cancer recovery. But he comes with 18 years of political experience, some of which was at the cabinet level.

He has promised to stop spending on the proposed Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam, a $6.2-billion project in Labrador that he says could raise electricity prices for the province's residents.

But Ms. Dunderdale says the project is viable and will be an economic boon, providing hundreds of jobs and more revenue for the province's coffers.

This is Lorraine Michael's second campaign as NDP leader. Michael, 68, has echoed similar concerns about Muskrat Falls and has voiced worries that the benefits of the province's offshore sector have not been seen in rural outports.

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